Behind terror attack, a reborn jihad empire

Parvez Musharraf, found himself forced into an increasingly bloody showdown with the Jaish’s constituent units.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2016 11:49 am
Jaish e Muhammad, Jaish e Muhammad headquaters, Jaish e Muhammad bahawalpur, Jaish e Muhammad pakistan, Jihadists, parvez musharraf, Indian intelligence, Masood Azhar, india latest news The recruits being trained at the Bahawalpur seminary as well as bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has, however, become a growing concern for India’s security services.

“To Delhi, O’ Hindus, the army of the Prophet will soon return,” reads a giant mural over the entrance of the Jaish-e-Muhammad’s headquarters at Bahawalpur, in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Inside the building, there is a swimming pool, stables, training grounds and accommodation for hundreds of students.

Ever since 2014, Masood Azhar — imprisoned by Pakistan’s intelligence services after his cadre were found to be involved in an attack on former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf — has slowly reemerged on the jihadist stage.

Indian intelligence officials have said the organisation was responsible for Saturday’s strike on an Indian Air Force base — its first major operation in India since an abortive 2005 strike on a makeshift temple in the Babri Masjid complex.

READ | Pathankot terror attack strikes at heart of PM Modi’s Pakistan peacemaking 

The recruits being trained at the Bahawalpur seminary as well as bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has, however, become a growing concern for India’s security services. Long before the Pathankot attack, the Jaish had carried out multiple strikes in Kashmir, and had promised more in videos and propaganda articles posted online.

In his book Fathul Jawwad, Azhar wrote: “The life of nations depends on martyrs. The national fields can be irrigated only with the blood of the best hearts and minds.”

READ |  Punjab again: Second attack in six months

Formed in January 2000, soon after Azhar was let out of an Indian jail in a hostages-for-prisoners swap, the Jaish was intended to unite a welter of jihadist groups which had been fighting in J&K as well as in Afghanistan. It was endorsed by a cross-section of jihadist clerics representing the Deobandi clerical tradition in Pakistan.

In 2000, Azhar’s newly formed group staged the first suicide-bombing in Kashmir, killing nine.

Azhar imposed himself on India’s consciousness again in 2001, ordering an attack on Parliament House in New Delhi. The strike took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

In the wake of 9/11, though, the Jaish came under enormous stress. Musharraf, found himself forced into an increasingly bloody showdown with the Jaish’s constituent units. In late 2001, Maulana Abdul Jabbar, the Jaish’s overall military commander, began pushing for attacks on western targets in Pakistan, leading to a split with Azhar.

Many young jihadists also broke ranks with the Jaish to join more radical al-Qaeda-linked groups.

From 2003, matters came to a head as breakaway Jaish operatives were found to be involved in attacks on Musharraf himself. Later, elements of the group were involved in the July 2007 stand-off between the army and jihadists who had occupied the Lal Masjid in Islamabad.

In the wake of these events, former ISI chief Lieutenant-General Javed Ashraf Qazi candidly told Pakistan’s Parliament that it “must not be afraid of admitting that the Jaish was involved in the deaths of thousands of innocent Kashmiris (and) bombing the Indian Parliament”.

Azhar’s decision to stand with the Pakistani state at this moment cost him legitimacy as a jihadist leader. Pressure from the West also worked to push Azhar into hibernation.

From 2013, though, the ISI again began to cultivate Azhar, in an effort to use pro-government jihadists as a counterweight to anti-Pakistan jihadists. He found a ready pool of cadre in southern Punjab. “Having no alternative ideology like Marxism or Liberalism which may challenge the feudal stranglehold, Deobandi militancy remains one of the few ways to counter it,” said social scientist Tahir Kamran.

The second coming of Azhar, the Pathankot strike shows, could provoke a crisis no less significant than those he sparked off in 1999 and 2001.

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Jan 3, 2016 at 3:58 am
    In Delhi-NCR, there is a sudden increase in number of fruit-sellers on cart. They are young and well built , sometimes well dressed, often in groups, chatting away and show little interest in selling their stuff. If you engage with them as a buyer, you become aware of their community and their dialect of speaking. I fear that these persons are part of "sleeper cells" , awaiting activation for appropriate mission(s). I hope the police have them in their radar, and are photographing /profiling them.
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    1. I
      IndianWellWisher
      Jan 4, 2016 at 1:43 am
      Excellent observation.
      Reply
      1. मनीष
        Jan 4, 2016 at 12:27 am
        Every time when India is terrorized by stanis, Indian Muslims have provided support to those stani terrorists. Enough is enough. Excluding the SICKulars, any Indian who wants to contribute to the war against terrorism in India, should stop buying things made in an Islamic country and stop doing business with a Muzzie owned store/business. You have to act and do your duty as well!
        Reply
        1. मनीष
          Jan 3, 2016 at 4:39 am
          Every time when India is terrorized by stanis, Indian Muslims have provided support to those stani terrorists. Enough is enough. Excluding the SICKulars, any one in India wants to contribute to this war against terrorism in India, should stop buying things made in an Islamic country and stop doing business with a Muzzie owned store/business.
          Reply
          1. R
            Romik
            Jan 4, 2016 at 3:18 am
            The time to end this extreme behavior has come. Wait and watch... Relax take a deep breath... let the professionals do their job.
            Reply
            1. A
              A Patel
              Jan 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm
              No seculars like SRK, Amir Khan, Barkha are condemning this attack.
              Reply
              1. B
                Balagopal
                Jan 3, 2016 at 6:46 am
                The ease with which terrorists from stan sneak into the country and carry out attacks portrays India as a 'soft state' to the world. Look at Israel which is surrounded by rogue states sponsoring terrorist squads. Israel frequently confronts terrorists and fiercely retaliates inflicting heavy human and material casualities to them. Why can't Indian armed forces and police learn from them and emulate them. Since Congress party is not in power in center or in big states, it should be easy to convince the leadership to invest more in training and equipment to neutralize terrorism from across the border or from domestic sympathisers.
                Reply
                1. c
                  countk99
                  Jan 3, 2016 at 6:05 am
                  Where are the critics of Intolerance sickular people? why are they not coming out now? Where is Aamir khan? seems he does't care when India is attacked by terrorists? Why would a traitor responded to terrorists attack!! its understandable. What happened to Shah Rukh khan and Tagore's? Why their mouths are shut now? why they are not speaking out on stan?
                  Reply
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